Blog post written by Dorene Palermo.
Today is supposed to be our “normal” day – just go to the clinic then come back to the hotel for dinner. We made a brief stop to view the new high school, which is very impressive. Its yellow, white, and orange colors on the concrete block walls shone brightly in the morning sun. The grass in the compound was dark green and grown pretty high since all the rain. A second building is being built to expand the school and should be done in two years. But the team was so eager to begin with patients no one got out of the van. The gate keepers of the compound were actually startled when we just turned around and headed back out of the gate before they even had a chance to sit down.
Today Pastor Leon’s Haitian clinic that shares the building with mission teams was closed. The Haitian staff worked out of Menelas, another one of Pastor Leon’s campuses in Port au Prince for the day. That meant that the rows and rows of people already outside the clinic were all “ours” and the team wasted no time getting started. One of the really gratifying things to see is how every team member sees what needs to be done and then either does it themselves or helps another team member get it done. Switching roles from triage, to lab, to treatment, to pharmacy, to traffic cop… whatever is needed is really amazing to watch.
The first priority when we arrived was to find a way to replenish four or five key medicines that we had run out of in only two days. One of them was an expensive inhaler, another was old familiar – Tums. Believe it or not, the clinic is more dependent on the Tums. It took hours for Fritzon to contact pharmacies trying to find the drugs. When he located them he had to drive a good distance to get them. Our van was in the garage being overhauled in preparation for our long trip on Friday and Saturday, so a tap tap was used. The pharmacies persisted in saying there were no Tums available (We had been told that all week) and that blew our minds. Finally Jim remembered he had seen Tums in the supermarket when we stopped to buy our lunch fixings on Saturday coming from the airport. We re-dispatched Fritzon to the grocery story with cash from our pockets and our fingers crossed. When he actually came back with four bottles of generic brand Tums it was one of the high points of the day! This is an example of how much we take for granted. In order for people to get things like tums, ibuprofen, multivitamins, and Tylenol – items that probably 80% of the patients we have seen need – they have to come to a clinic and pay the equivalent of a day’s pay!
I can’t see what goes on in the doctor’s exam rooms with their translators and patients, but I have always assumed it was pretty serious business. The well-oiled machine among the groups outside the exams certainly never slows down and is in constant motion. So when I saw this picture of one of our doctors at work, I was somewhat surprised. I can now better understand why Ben does so well as a baby doctor!
The clinic ran today until 3:30pm and served about 120 patients. When the team finally stopped they realized how tired they were and were grateful for the tap tap ride back to the hotel. It did not take long for folks to reappear near the pool with a cool beverage of choice, check for wi-fi, and start to unwind.
We had invited Dr. Quincey, the Haiti doctor in charge of the Haitian clinic to join us for dinner. He brought his wife, who is an industrial engineer, and his two children – a really cute 2 1/2 girl full of energy and a several month old little boy who is adorable. Before the night was over Helen was down by the pool with the little girl, blowing bubbles and playing. Not too surprising.
The five docs spent dinner in their own special universe as they started to get to know each other and were able to ask each other all kinds of questions, including Dr. Quincey’s dreams and needs for the clinic. We look forward to getting to spend time with him again on every trip.
Janet Horton, our medical contact in the US for Haiti Outreach Mission, arrived today and is staying at our same hotel. She also joined us for dinner. We learned from her that the clinic is really only two years old and is experiencing normal growing pains and a severe shortage of funding. It takes $120,000/year to operate the clinic and they nearly had to shut it down this year due to lack of sufficient funds. She will be working next week to find ways to more efficiently operate, but even so they are unable to afford a full-time Haitian administrator for the clinic. What monies they do receive they will use to staff the doctors, nurses, and medicines. When she returns to the US, we plan to spend a little more time with her to understand it all better and see if there might be a way for us to help.
Another busy day tomorrow: we get to go to Terre Noire and visit the classroom ! All the first-time team members, Jules (who worked all summer receiving the donated clothing), and I will go. The others will keep the clinic running like a top! We hope to get to shop in the Terre Noire Gift Shop which I have never seen. Tomorrow night we hope to again have dinner guests as we celebrate our last day of clinic.
Time for bed. God is good and we are truly blessed.